Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Learning Spanish on the Fly. Richard Razook, a friend of mine for many years and a brilliant international tax lawyer in Miami, is learning Spanish. (He already knows Arabic, and his Latin American "market" consists of business people in Central and South America of Lebanese descent.) He found that he could not keep a schedule with a tutor, so he commenced a self-study project.

The public center of Richard's effort is a daily email that initially he sent to friends of his who are Spanish speakers. The email is centered about a Spanish phrase or sentence that Richard picked up in his reading or his listening. His email gives his idea of the English translation, and he comments on the phrase or sentence, first in in Spanish and then in English. Each day there is a new phrase or sentence, with his commentary.

The purpose of Richard sending his daily email to Spanish speakers was to solicit their corrections and comments. But non-Spanish speakers heard about what he is doing and asked to be put on his email list. He obliged. He now has hundreds of people on his email list.

Each morning, early, he gets up, prepares his email for the day, looks at replies to the email from the day before, responds to those replies, and also studies his Spanish. Then he comes to work at the Miami branch of a large, national law firm.

I have been receiving his emails for about two weeks. They are very helpful in my own quest to learn that language. My colleague, Juan Antunez, a Spanish speaker, finds the emails very helpful too, and asked Richard to add him to the list. In fact, if you ask Richard, he might add you too. His email address is RJRazook@800brickell.com.

Juan suggests a website that those seeking to learn Spanish might find helpful: babblefish.com. One of the webpages on this site offers an instant translation service: you type in a word, phrase or sentence in English, hit a "submit" button, and back comes a pretty good translation. Try it here.

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